Oregon Employment Department cutting phone hours to catch up on claims

OREGON – The Oregon Employment Department is making two big changes to its phone hours starting in June.

The announcement came Wednesday morning during the employment department’s media briefing.

The first change, which starts on June 4, reduces phone hours by two hours daily to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This means employees will stop accepting new calls at 4 p.m. but will continue to answer calls that are already on hold.

Current phone hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The second change, a temporary one, begins a day earlier on June 3. The department says it will be closing the contact center phone lines on Mondays so that staff can focus on processing claims, answer electronic messages, make outbound calls, as well as other tasks that need to be completed.

David Gerstenfeld, the employment department’s Modernization Executive Sponsor says this is a temporary measure until the department has resolved most of the issues people have been waiting on.

“Our initial target is to reduce by 80% or more the number of issues that are six weeks old or more,” Gerstenfeld said. “Currently that’s about 13,500 issues. Once there are no more than 2,700 issues that are over six weeks old we will resume taking calls on Monday.”

The changes will impact those calling about unemployment insurance, Paid Leave Oregon, as well as contributions and recovery.

Gerstenfeld also says employees will still continue to make outbound calls before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

During the meeting, the State Employment Economist also gave a report on April’s jobs numbers and unemployment rate.

Watch the full briefing below:


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